Wisconsin Oven Expansion

Feb 08, 2013

Wisconsin Oven Corporation, which has long been known as one of East Troy’s biggest and most revered companies, will soon be expanding its brand in the Dairy State. On the heels of a recent sale to PLC Group of France in April, Wisconsin Oven announced plans last week to open another plant in Waukesha, adding about 20 new jobs. Dave Strand, President and CEO of Wisconsin Oven Corporation, said the move is a result of record sales for the company in 2012. “We have a need for immediate space due to backlog and what East Troy had available wasn’t going to meet our needs,” Strand said.

Wisconsin Oven will open up shop in an existing 30,000-square-foot facility on Pewaukee Road in about two weeks. The addition will increase the capacity of the industrial oven manufacturer’s existing four facilities in East Troy. “We also hope by opening a plant in Waukesha, we will find a larger pool of skilled trade talent to draw from,” Strand said. The expansion will help Wisconsin Oven continue to design and manufacture a broad line of heating equipment for some of the biggest names in the business like Ford, General Electric and Boeing. “The largest companies in the world are here in our doors every month and they are impressed with the work ethic and what comes out of the little town of East Troy,” Strand said.

Despite the recent addition in a new zip code, Wisconsin Oven has no plans to abandon its roots. Strand said Wisconsin Oven is also considering an expansion to its 1990 Young St. facility in East Troy. With some ovens measuring in at 20 feet wide, 100 feet long and 20 feet tall, it’s no surprise Wisconsin Oven is at capacity. Strand said the company supplies a couple of niche markets that have continued to grow, including the composite industry (with materials used in the aerospace and automotive industry) and the energy industry. The company’s standard or custom industrial ovens are used for a multitude of applications, such as heat treating, finishing, drying or curing.

“The exciting thing about our growth is the majority of it is a result of repeat customer orders. Once we have a customer, we keep them,” Strand said. “Our quality products and our dedication to after sales service, has made the difference.”

Strand said this is a testament to Wisconsin Ovens’ Work of Champions program. The program rewards the success of its 120 employees with recognition luncheons, champion awards and bonuses. “Today we recognized 11 employees for perfect attendance, two employees for 20 years of service, two employees of the month and gave safety awards, bonuses and awards totaling $2,700,” he said. Strand said the program has been key to boosting employee morale, involvement and recognition

“Our people work harder, have more skill, more dedication to the customer, more work ethic, and more positive attitudes than anyone. I would put our team up against anyone. They get results, they are true champions,” Strand said.

Strand said Wisconsin Oven Corporation, which has been designing, engineering, and manufacturing industrial ovens and other heating equipment for nearly 40 years, is known for retaining its employees. “Many of the people within this company have been here for one to two to three decades,” Strand said. He is one of them. Strand started working for Wisconsin Oven Corporation at 19 years old on the shop floor and has stayed with the company for 27 years.

“Most of the people in management have worked on the shop floor or in engineering and worked their way up in the company,” Strand said. He said he still works with a lot of guys he graduated with at East Troy High School. “It’s kind of a homegrown company,” he said.

The East Troy-based company joined PLC Holding, which is comprised of Elmetherm, Elino, Wistra and Mecarom Dotcom LTD in April of 2012. Strand said the sale has given Wisconsin Oven the opportunity to free up some of the debt the company inherited and reinvest in the business. Since the sale, nothing has changed internally with the employees and management team still intact, according to Strand. His responsibilities, however, have grown. In addition to his duties as President and CEO of Wisconsin Oven, Strand is now the vice president of North and South America PLC USA and will soon be responsible for manufacturing facilities in Brazil and Mexico.

By Vanessa Lenz